The car accident insurance claim process can be easy or complex — depending on what you know.
But first things first: After an accident that causes damage, injury, or death, you will need to make an insurance claim to get insurance benefits.
The claim process begins at the scene of the accident to how you engage your insurance company.
In this post, we’ve highlighted the key information you need to help you with the car accident insurance claim process.
What Do You Do Right After A Car Accident?
Immediately after an accident, you may lose focus, or the car may not move. Depending on your state and that of the car, there are a few things you can do.
Are You Safe?
When you are involved in a car accident, first check whether you and your passengers are safe or not. If you can, call 911 if anyone needs medical assistance.
Move Off The Road (if possible)
If you’re okay and can move, move your car (if it can move) to a safe location. Get it out of traffic but don’t leave the scene just yet.
If the car can’t move or if you can’t move it, that’s okay. Just turn off the engine and get out of the vehicle (also if you can).
Report The Accident
Even if no one is injured, call 911 and report the accident. If you can’t make a call, allow close witnesses to do it or wait for help.
The officer who’ll come to the scene will complete an accident report to capture important information about the accident that will help your insurance claim.
Gather Details About The Accident At The Scene
If you’re okay and can move well, you need to document the accident. This will give you the correct information to protect yourself when the time comes to make a claim.
Capture as much accident detail as you can, including the other car and the other driver. Take notes, capture pictures, and record videos on your phone.
Some of the important information that you can gather include:
- Date and exact time of the accident
- The exact location of the accident
- Road condition at the time of accident and weather conditions, including visibility
- Traffic status on the road at the time of the accident
- Make, model, color, and registration plates of the other car
- Driver’s license, insurance provider, and insurance policy information of the other vehicle
- Full name, phone number, and other contact details of the other driver
- Time the police arrive, the name of the officer, and badge number.
- Witnesses’ (if available) names and contact information
- Take pictures and record videos of the damage to your car, crash scene, and surrounding property. Get images from different angles, capture your license plate and other license numbers of all involved vehicles.
Note: It’s extra important to exchange information with the other driver. Share your name, license number, and the insurance company. Importantly, don’t accept blame or place blame on anyone yet.
Two more important things to do before you leave the accident scene:
- Ask the police how you can obtain a copy of the accident report
- Take notes about the recollections you have of the accident when it’s clear in your mind
How Soon After A Car Accident Can I File A Claim?
You should file an insurance claim immediately or sooner after an accident.
This will help you settle the car damages and other accident expenses more quickly and sooner than filing the claim later.
Generally, claims take time to process. So, the sooner you can file an insurance claim, the sooner you’re likely to see a payment or reimbursement provider.
But if you’re not capable, you don’t need to file a claim in haste.
Most insurance providers don’t have an accident claims deadline as long as you’ve notified them of the accident.
Many state statutes of limitations outline the duration of filing a claim as only two to three years. But some insurers may only pay the costs of damages, repairs, or injuries for the year in which the accident occurred.
It would be wise to file the claim immediately after the accident, or at least contact your insurer or agent as soon as you can.
What Do I Need To File An Insurance Claim After A Car Accident?
To file a claim, you need to submit some specific information to your insurance company. Most of the information you’ll submit is the one you gathered right after the accident.
- A police report of the accident with accident information date, time, and location, and the police report number
- Your car’s registration, driver’s license, and insurance details
- A detailed description of the accident, how it occurred, pictures (images), and videos (if possible)
- Your policy number — you can find this on your insurance card
- Information about the other vehicle, including registration plate, driver’s license, insurance, and contact info of the other driver
- Name and badge number of the police department involved
How Do I File An Insurance Claim After A Car Accident?
The process of filing insurance claims may differ as per the insurance company. The general car insurance claim process includes:
- Call your insurance company or agent and inquire about the information you need.
- Typically, they’ll walk you through the process and ask you to provide all the aforementioned information and documents.
- Fill a claim form and fill it with your insurance provider.
- An assessor or claim representative will assess the extent of damage to your vehicle or property, injury, or any other occurrence.
- A claim representative will then contact you to go over your claim and detail the process to follow.
- The insurer will review your claim and contact you to evaluate the claim accurately.
- Finally, the provider will assess the claim and begin processing it.
Here are some things to note before you file a claim:
- Until the police and your insurer determine fault, your insurance provider will cover the cost for repairs, property damage, and injuries. This will depend on the type of coverage.
- When getting repairs, take your car to your car insurance company’s approved body shops.
- Before getting any repairs, get estimates at any body shop.
- Always check with your agent before committing your car to any car body shop. This will help you confirm whether or not your insurer will reimburse you.
- Your adjuster (the person responsible for investigating your claim) may require you to compare different quotes from different body shops.
- If you have a preferred repair shop different from what your insurer recommends, you may have to pay the difference between the estimate they provide and what your insurer agrees to pay.
- If your claim includes medical expenses for injuries sustained in the accident, make sure you keep the medical receipts and deliver their copies to your claims adjuster. They provide evidence for reimbursement.
What If The Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
Typically, the at-fault driver’s insurance pays for the repairs, damages, and injuries in a car accident. But what if the other car and driver are uninsured?
This can make things a little more complicated.
First, driving without insurance is illegal in most states because almost every state legally requires each driver to carry minimum car insurance coverage. You can file legal charges against the driver and have the court compel them to pay you.
Suppose the other driver doesn’t have car insurance. This is where uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages come in. Depending on the situation — whether the driver has limited liability coverage or lacks it at all — you can use your uninsured and underinsured coverages to cover your medical expenses.
An accident can confuse even the most seasoned driver. We believe following these steps may help you through the claim process after an accident. Besides, the most important thing after an accident is safety: make sure you’re safe. Once you’re safe, every other step should be easy to follow.